What has happened in digital storytelling since 2011? A selfish query

The New Digital Storytelling, first editionI have a nice opportunity, thanks to my publisher, to create a second edition of my 2011 book The New Digital Storytelling. Praeger wants the new version to reflect what has changed in the digital storytelling world over the past five years.*

What should I address, o readers?  What developments are most worthy of words?

In the first edition I covered: the history of digital storytelling, i.e. the rise of the Center for Digital Storytelling; social media; mobile devices; gaming; digital storytelling for education; practical aspects of making a digital story.  (If you want more info, check the publisher’s site.)

So far I plan to add these features:

  • Storytelling for presentation
  • New tools, like Pinterest, Google Docs, infographics, and emoji
  • More on YouTube, since that took over the world
  • More on QR codes
  • Book as app
  • The rise of self-publishing through Amazon Kindle
  • Recent examples, including games, social media projects, video, podcasting, etc.

What else would you like to see?  Have you seen, or made, examples I should use?

*Technically that will appear as six years, since the book will actually appears in early 2017.

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27 Responses to What has happened in digital storytelling since 2011? A selfish query

  1. Bryan,
    Here’s my two bits worth, and in no particular order:

    There has been a real rise in the number of academic certificates in DST such as the one I got at UC Denver.

    This continues: I have been asked to consult (pending NEH grant) for a community college in Albuquerque helping the faculty develop curriculum for a DST Certificate. It’s seen as a trending major. At UO (that’s OREGON) a friend of mine got her PhD in Digital Storytelling (under a different program name).

    The Center for Digital Storytelling is no longer affiliated with UC Denver’s program and now offers their own “more rigorous” certificate program. Their change in global focus is certainly worth some mention in your revised book.

    The International Digital Storytelling Conference has taken off and grown by leaps and bounds. A close look at it is worthy.

    This summer, I was an NEH fellow at a “Digital Humanities @ the Community College” one week summer institute and led everyone through the creation and production of a digital story as one of their outcomes–I offer that by way of showing how it has entered the academic mainstream as desireable.

    Another example-I taught digital storytelling as part of the National Writing Project.

    Try a Google Scholar search thus: “NCTE digital storytelling”

    National Geographic and Fulbright are in their third year of offering Digital Storytelling Fellowships (which I am running at as hard as I can!).

    Local digital storytelling units around all kinds of topics have sprung up all over the place, such as The Trauma Healing Project in Springfield, Oregon.

    The New Media Consortium has a designated DST blogger (moi): http://redarchive.nmc.org/news/toward-postmodern-definition-digital-storytelling

    Podcasting is a HUGE phenomenon–just see iTunes.

    I feel there is still an amorphous struggle between the academic and the journalistic definitions of “digital storytelling.” I think that is worth discussing in a public forum.

    There are LOTS of K-12 teachers successfully teaching DST to the very youngest children.

    That said, I personally think there is a dearth of people using digital storytelling to create little videos of poems, of personal documentaries, of art reviews–all those creative uses I have been exploring, but I can’t seem to find “my tribe.”

    Definitely review all the really creative tablet apps for DST such as Storehouse, Shorthand and Stellar. See: https://ijnet.org/en/blog/shorthand-storehouse-and-steller-three-visual-storytelling-apps-journalists

    What’s interesting is that big journalism outlets such as National Geographic and BBC News are using these apps.

    Don’t forget to review the phenom “Snow Fall.” It marks a place in time.

    Exposure is a subscription storytelling app worth following.

    Also: Racontr, Interlude Treehouse, Explory, Scrolliting– have you seen http://benjamin.djehouti.com/scrollitelling/

    Digital storytelling really has just EXPLODED with a lot of really creative technical juice in the blender. The ability to actually tell a story has also entered the mainstream kitchen with Pixar, Steven Pressfield and others, so many others writing about story structure. It’s not a completely new world since your first edition, but the changes to me are really remarkable and worth writing about.

    Let me know if I can be of further assistance!

  2. Linda says:

    Virtual reality

    • Good point. I need to work in Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift.
      Have you seen storytelling therein?

      • lindaleea says:

        I am not sure what kind of specific stories that you want. There have been people in Second Life and other virtual worlds that create stories where you participate. There was one that you are slave, that I thought was very powerful. The first thing they did was take off your clothes. Even though these are avatars, most people feel very “naked”. People have been splitting off from Second Life to other worlds. There are a couple new ones now that are in development. With these new headsets it is going to get very interesting. I am thinking about learning Maya (I have a graphics/art background) in order to create 3D objects to create these worlds — Extra money for my retirement. I long ago heard about an 80 year old oriental man who has been doing this for years. But right now I am in the process of moving to Asheville. If you need more info just let me know.

        I really think these technologies are going to be the future of both storytelling and education.

        stories of people creating in Second Life https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLI0b2jAH3oFvr6J0AhWroB9lmOXRN2xLV



  3. Bob says:

    Twitch and online open world gaming, to youtube, DayZ, for example. TehJamJar, Mr. Blackout, Kiwo, Mr. Chow and M1nd3r all play the game looking to create or tell stories improvisationally. Moreover many of them are making a living creating content and online communities.

    • Those are excellent, Bob. Which one should I start with?

      • Bob says:

        DayZ isn’t a game in any classic sense. It is rather a virtual world representing a post-apocalyptic zombie infection. A person enters the world a survivor. Death matters because you lose everything. Accordingly, the in-world interactions and decisions between and by players are the game content. The game is in early release alpha perhaps half-way to beta so still years away from full release. Yet, it is already an incredible rich source of content and community creation.


        First, digital storytelling, in this case is about making money. There is the money that Bohemia Interactive is making from selling pre-release game clients. There is the entire profession of playing games professionally and DayZ has contributed significantly to the viability of that profession. I think this is a very telling distinction for understanding this twist on digital storytelling. These storytellers represent a new profession and many of their audience are middle school and high school age. Accordingly, these consumers have expectations of digital storytelling that complicate an academic approach to the topic. Summarized quickly the storyteller has a Twitch stream they capture hundreds of hours of gameplay. They are generating revenue from donations, from Twitch subscriptions, from commercials. They then edit the raw footage into youtube videos (crafted and plotted stories) which provides another revenue stream through subscriptions and commercials. Many also have branded gear that they sell.

        I think there are four basic narrative threads, play styles, thus far:





        Kiwo is an example of a player who wanders between Hero, Bandit, and Insane play-styles, in my opinion (she may read this and correct me.)

        These are meant as examples and these players/storytellers will lead you to others. There seems to be an ebb and flow as players get frustrated or bored or real life interrupts – so the stars are not fixed. Moreover, play-styles blend and blur together depending on who is playing together.

        Another twist are those storytellers who are using real life settings and actors to tell stories about DayZ, one example.

        Finally, this really represents an entirely new profession and this is only a small stream in that profession.

  4. CogDog says:

    As a reflex, big bear, I will probe the rationale of a print book about digital storytelling 😉

    Some fodder:

    * YouTube not only content, but it’s position of being a source of DS material. There is this odd thing that they do not close the door on downloading, but it is not a “feature”. The rights issues are messy. I barked once about how Google itself downloaded clips frmo Youtube and remixed into a commercial, w/o attribution http://cogdogblog.com/2014/03/12/amazingest-true-story-of-sharing-so-far-and-how-google-sanctions-remix/
    * Not sure if “mobile” is too big a bucket, but the shift to capture, edit, publishing from the mobile platform is a shift. Check out bootlegger.tv as a means to crowdsource a mobile video shoot
    * Mixed with that is what I have been calling short-form video, things that are somewhere between a photo and a traditional video, including animated GIFs (themselves worth a chapter), Vine, Instagram, Hyperlapse
    * something maybe about the tumblr-sphere- a place where many communicate solely in imagery and re-posting.
    * What Sandy referred to by mentioning Snowfall is what I would go broader with HTML5 web publishing, and the whole universe of web documentaries, or interactive-documentaries- stuff not quite the linear video and not quite a web site. Almost anything from the Canadian Film Board, like https://donottrack-doc.com/ I have a bunch of stuff at http://lab.cogdogblog.com/i-docs
    * Efforts to break the web-video as just linear video on the web like Touchcast
    * The impact of audio .. e.g. Serial podcast, Welcome to Nightvale, etc
    * I poo poo it often but people do believe in storytelling with data

    That should keep you busy

  5. Along the lines if data visualization — data-driven documentaries like The Fallen of WWII


  6. Great answers from others here so far. I think we are right on the cusp of a new convergence that will bring game engines like Unreal and Unity into the mix. We really had to push the envelope and bend the software a bit to get all the integration we wanted to create “Falling Up” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFuluIy-5QY (which uses real field audio and video which is then embedded in a 3D environment), but if we (read: 10 students and a prof in Kansas with no videogame-creation experience whatsoever) can do that in a single semester, then obviously the barrier to entry is falling. Unreal and Unity are also working hard on creating seamless HTML5 compatibility, which means that in the near future (perhaps in just 1 year) we could see fairly sophisticated “games” (including interactive stories, etc.) available online without the need for special software or large downloads. Add to that the plethora of free (and paid) 3D materials, objects, scripts, etc. and you have an immensely rich storytelling atmosphere blossoming right now. Furthermore, game engines allow us to very easily convert our stories and storyworlds into virtual reality, which can then be experienced on $10 parts like Google Cardboard.

    The world of animation is similar. The barrier to entry is falling, and even high end software like Anime Studio and ToonBoom are more and more within reach of the amateur. People share complex characters and animations that can be imported into any project and make building stories fairly easy.

    You might be interested in this little piece I did for the Future of Storytelling (most of their videos are really good starting points for digital storytelling): http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/unboxing-stories/

  7. Selfies. It elbows into some of the same territory Cogdog covered when he mentioned Instagram and Vines, but I mean specifically people taking pictures of themselves. There’s a whole software/hardware industry growing up around the selfie, and a language too I think.

    Also, designed ephemera, as in Snapchat (also Periscope?). The value of the temporary, the immediate. I think I remember you covered Chatroulette in the first edition (don’t have my copy on me to verify), but that taps into some of the same energies.

  8. jwithers38 says:

    Reblogged this on Ethnography.com and commented:
    We like this article, it is in line with our storytelling mission.

  9. Carine says:

    Hi Bryan,
    Great conversation here. I’m mostly a lurker but three things come to mind: Powtoons (simple animation software, loved by P-16 education – not sure about elsewhere), the new Sway by MS (haven’t tried it, don’t have Windows 10), and then the massive disruption caused by personal video capture via smartphones (think Arab Spring and policy brutality/misconduct stories in US that have captured the nation’s attention).
    Looking forward to your new edition.

  10. Jens says:

    Gamification of everyday life a la sties/companies like Superbetter and Habatica.

    The rise of apps for digital storytelling, as well as automated storytelling tools like those that now summarize users’ lives on Facebook and other social platforms.

    The use of wearable tech for telling particular types of stories, usually health/fitness stories.

    Specification of storytelling modes across sites, i.e. it’s no longer possible to tell the same story across each platform if marketers/promoters/storytellers want to reach audiences. In the same vein, many digital platforms have emphasized platform-native stories (i.e. Facebook videos) versus those that are shared across platforms.

    Native advertising, which is making it harder to tell “real” stories apart from marketing and advertising.

    The rise of crowdfunding sites to tell corporate and business stories, i.e. Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Kiva, etc.

  11. VanessaVaile says:

    Check out NWP’s #CLMOOC, especially Kevin Hodgson, @dogtrax, and Terry Elliot, @tellio. They are always coming up with something new — and just thinking about them always makes me smile.

  12. Pingback: Trends to watch in 2015: education and technology | Bryan Alexander

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